Minor details make a major difference. When it comes to hi-hats, the clutch is the detail that defines its sound while you play. Even an amateur musician will easily distinguish a closed hi-hat sound from an open one. And it’s the clutch that brings the pads together or apart while you’re playing, as you stomp on the pedal. Everything is for your convenience.
No wonder that clutches have attracted high attention of engineers and musicians, to optimize their impact on the sound, in addition to general durability and convenience. Just play the same sequence with drop sound or without it. Or open your hi-hat a bit wider. Or play it when fixed loosely (though I wouldn’t recommend such experiments).
I have done a little comparison of hi-hat clutches available nowadays. Ignoring exotic or dated models, I focused on those you can easily buy. Still, I recommend you to look at them at an offline store first. And then, after some physical feel, you can make up your mind. Maybe, there will be the one you’ll want as soon as you get your hands on it.
Most hi-hat clutches are versatile. Due to standardization, most hardware sets are made under the same guidelines, using typical dimensions. It refers also to accessories like these. But, given this unlimited freedom, there is even a louder question. Which hi-hat clutches to choose? If they only were compatible with their native drum hardware, it would be way easier.
- Amazon Bestseller
- Clutches to Pay Attention To
- 1. The Best Hi-Hat Clutch for Money: Gibraltar SC-4421D Stand Hi-Hat Clutch-Sp
- 2. The Most Affordable Automatic Hi-Hat Clutch: Gibraltar SC-QRHHC
- 3. The Most Unusual Hi-Hat Clutch: TAMA Quick-Set Hi-Hat Clutch (QHC7)
- 4. The Best Hi-Hat Drop Clutch: Gibraltar SC-DC Hi-Hat Drop Clutch
- 5. Gibraltar SC-4420S Super – the Best Hi-Hat Clutch Under $10
- 6. DW One-Touch Hi-Hat Clutch: the iPhone of a Clutch
- 7. Gibraltar SC-4420: the Basic Universal Hi-Hat Clutch
- 8. Gibraltar SC-QRHHDC Quick Release Hi-Hat Drop Clutch
- 9. DW SM379 Standard Hi-Hat Clutch
- Outro: the Best Hi-Hat Clutch and the Importance of Minor Things
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Clutches to Pay Attention To
Here is a list of hi-hat clutches I consider worth your attention. They are all compatible with any hardware set, though there are nuances that make some of them preferable for your manner or the style you play. For example, if you utilize drop sounds, you’ll definitely need a drop clutch. If not, you can go without it and buy several regular ones instead.
There’s hardly an item that’s over a regular budget (although, the pricing may change). Hardly any visitor will give their attention to the clutch, even while watching the drummer play closely. But, as minor as they are next to other drum set elements, clutches are important as well, and here’s why. The reason is you will deal with it.
1. The Best Hi-Hat Clutch for Money: Gibraltar SC-4421D Stand Hi-Hat Clutch-Sp
One of the most popular brands of drum hardware offers an entire line of clutches, and here comes the top-selling one. The reason is probably its price: it’s less than half of the more expensive items. Compatible with other brands as well as Gibraltar hardware, the clutch sits well on both 8-mm and 7-mm rods. It’s simple, with no automatic functions, yet it gets the job done.
Given its price, it makes sense for you to buy a pack of SC-4421D to change when your current one gets fubar. Its lack of automation results in a solid build and durability. You will rarely have to adjust it. If you change your cymbals during a gig, though, you better have a separate clutch for each pad pair: it will make changing them faster. (A spoiler: you’ll find even more affordable ones below).
The item may loosen up while you’ve been playing for long or hitting the pad hard; I have never experienced it but heard of some incidents. Well, it’s probably about the compatibility of the clutch with particular hardware. But still, if you own one, tighten it stronger: letting it loosen may lead to the consequences you’d like to avoid.
- Very affordable;
- Solid build;
- Compatible with most hats and stands;
- Easy to set up.
- Mediocre design;
- May loosen after a long session or gig;
- Lacks automatic features.
2. The Most Affordable Automatic Hi-Hat Clutch: Gibraltar SC-QRHHC
While the previous one was quite simple, this clutch looks more sophisticated. In fact, it is: its automatic construction makes it easier to install and control the item. There is an instruction on the cover, so you better read it if you want an automatic hi-hat clutch to save some time. It does when tired after a gig, you disassemble your set. You don’t have to unscrew the clutch: it’s enough to pull the release mechanism.
While you’re playing, the mechanism gets your upper padlocked. The bottom pad still obeys your foot control, but the felts between the two are quite durable and keep their shape as well. If the idea of having a separate clutch for each hi-hat pair doesn’t make sense to you, then this one will let you swap them easily during the gig.
There are some issues as well. For example, its mechanism can be too tight on heavy-duty stands, while fitting perfectly on light and medium ones. If you play the top cymbal hard, the mechanism may fail too. But all in all, it’s quite a good and solid piece.
- Quickly mounts HH cymbal to clutch fast without having to thread on screw mount
- Fitted with a spring and ball bearing locking sleeve
- Quick-release feature;
- Saves time when installing or disassembling the set;
- Reasonable price;
- Easy setup.
- May fall off in the open mode;
- Takes some time to figure out;
- Made for 7mm rods only.
3. The Most Unusual Hi-Hat Clutch: TAMA Quick-Set Hi-Hat Clutch (QHC7)
This device by Tama, one of the leading American drum manufacturers (est. 1908), is rather expensive, but when you take a closer look, you’ll see why. It saves your time on setting up or breaking down, just like the previous clutch by Gibraltar. But, unlike it, this item utilizes an innovative construction.
It takes just a slide to lock the top cymbal holder or the opposite. So, your iPhone isn’t the only thing that you can unlock with a slide now. Despite using plastic components, the construction is sturdy enough to endure under hard drumming, so your top cymbal stays in its place. There is also a release mechanism on top, used to disassemble the hi-hat stand after a gig. A real time-saver, priceless when you’re all tired and dried out.
Here is also an example of a clutch affecting the sound. The upper nut is invented to highlight the natural resonance of the cymbal, so you’ll have it loud and bright, with less pressure than other clutches make.
As for its durability and stability, the mass opinion is that its plastic components do not affect them. The felts and the metal parts are as great as the best alternatives have. Moreover, the item is sturdy enough to endure under the most aggressive hammering.
- One-touch lock & release switch allows drummers to change hi-hat cymbals quickly.
- One-touch lock & release switch prevents the top hi-hat cymbal from loosening while playing.
- Quality build;
- Saves time when setting up or changing cymbals;
- Efficient loosening prevention mechanism;
- Durable and sturdy.
- Pricier than others;
- Includes plastic details.
4. The Best Hi-Hat Drop Clutch: Gibraltar SC-DC Hi-Hat Drop Clutch
Here comes Gibraltar again, and this one is a drop clutch – that is, it lets you easily drop the upper cymbal. This class of a clutch is more than just impacting the sound – it enriches your manner with a drop sound, strong, short, and aggressive. After the upper cymbal drops, you get it back up with the pedal.
SC-DC (I confess, I almost wrote it as SC/DC) functions as a regular clutch without its drop module. But when you put it on, the drop feature becomes available. To make it drop, you need to hit the lever firmly with a stick. If you prefer playing aggressively, or just want to make more sounds available from the same cymbals, this is a must. By the way, that’s when the right gloves matter. The better they fit your hands, the better you interact with unusual controls like this lever.
The product is compatible with 7 mm hardware, and, as the diameter is from 7.2 to 7.5 mm, you’ll have to tighten it thoroughly. Some issues I have heard or read about concern difficulties with assembling the item, its partial incompatibility with non-Gibraltar hardware, or getting it to grab the cymbal tighter. Maybe it’s not the best hi-hat drop clutch, but definitely one of the best-selling ones. It also makes sense to have one more high hat clutch as a backup component: if you’re using drop sounds constantly, you won’t be good with an SC-4421D or anything as basic.
- Hit the clutch with a drumstick and the top cymbal disengages and drops
- Step on the pedal and the clutch attaches itself at its original position
- Adds new sounds to your drumming;
- Compact and easy;
- Sturdy build;
- Rocky name;
- Great price.
- May fail if your manner isn’t aggressive;
- May need a little tweaking.
5. Gibraltar SC-4420S Super – the Best Hi-Hat Clutch Under $10
No wonder that there are so many clutches by this famous vendor. This one is rather simple, but still, it has some improvements. The most noticeable is the butterfly nut that is used instead of a regular screw. As a result, it embraces the rod instead of screwing it. The rod gets less damaged, and the conjunction itself it stable and sturdy.
Generally, it’s similar to the SC-4421D that comes first in this review. It offers no automation, no drop features, nothing of the kind. It’s just a regular hi-hat clutch, but it’s made of quality steel, manufactured by a famous vendor, offered for reasonable money, and looking quite good. If you need extra features, you better look elsewhere; the price will be different as well.
As a universal hi-hat clutch, it’s compatible with virtually all hi-hats and 7- or 8-mm rods. There are almost no incompatibility issues reported. But you need to be as careful with it as with any other clutch: if screwed too tightly, it may break your bottom pad (just like most others, though). Even considering the item`s price, it’s not the experiment I’d like to conduct.
- SC-4420S hi-hat cymbal Clutch
- The advanced-design Gibraltar hi-hat Clutch provides better access to the cymbal bell and easy butterfly nut adjustment
- One of the most affordable clutches;
- Easy butterfly-nut adjustment;
- Solid build;
- Endures hard drumming.
- May break the bottom if overtightened;
- Nothing beyond the most basic features.
6. DW One-Touch Hi-Hat Clutch: the iPhone of a Clutch
DW stands for Drum Workshop; designed by professional musicians as well as engineers, its drums and accessories are quite elaborate… and never cheap. A One-Touch hi-hat clutch will cost you three or four of SC-4420S Super, but it might be worth this.
Not only is One-Touch made of premium materials and sturdily constructed. Unlike the previous items, it’s extremely easy to assemble and adjust during the session. You only need to do some sliding moves to loosen or tighten it, and this clutch will affect the sound of your hi-hat. The closer the cymbals remain to each other, the closer they sound.
This product sits on the rod tightly. Rotation doesn’t take much effort, though some are required. The drummer can easily tighten or loosen the cymbals to change the hi-hat sound during the session, reaching for it with the hand holding a stick in it.
No wonder it’s addressed as one of the very best, if not the best universal hi hat clutch. Its construction is durable and easily adjustable as you play. On the other hand, this is not the sort of clutch that lets you break down your session or change the hi hat quickly during it. If that’s your aim, you better opt for a quick release one.
- One-Touch Hi-Hat Clutch
- Simply turn the contoured aluminum knob of the DW One-Touch Clutch to incrementally lock the hi-hats into place
- Very durable and sturdy;
- Easy to adjust even as you play;
- Changes the sound of the hi-hats noticeably at your command;
- Looks fantastic.
- Quite pricey;
- Doesn’t allow for quick release.
7. Gibraltar SC-4420: the Basic Universal Hi-Hat Clutch
Aren’t you tired of Gibraltar models? Okay, it’s the penultimate one. By the number in its name, we can assume it’s a simpler and cheaper version of SC-4421 that we started the journey with. In fact, the looks are just that, so is the price. It’s simple or even basic appearance gets us thinking it’s as basic in its features. And, again, the first impression is correct.
On the other hand, if a basic clutch with a set of necessary features is what you need, this one is quite an option. Just don’t expect it to work wonders. It does its job of keeping the cymbals fixed unless you step on the pedal. You can also have one in your accessory bag – just in case.
The build is quite solid and sturdy – aren’t you tired of these definitions for Gibraltar accessories? Blame them, not me. It’s also easy to put on and off, though it’s not as easy and fast as it is with quick-release ones.
If you are positive about what you buy, this simple worker won’t disappoint you. For a drum set under $500, it’s the perfect fit. There are some jobs, though, it’s no good for, and one of them is looking glamorous. If your band plays deluxe music at deluxe gigs, and you need to shine – in this case, you’ll easily find an extra $20 for something shinier.
- Fits most professional stands
- Excellent replacement, spare or upgrade
- Durable and sturdy;
- Affordable price;
- Compatible with virtually any hardware;
- Can endure aggressive manner of playing.
- Only basic functions are present;
- Looks excessively functional, lacks charm and shine.
8. Gibraltar SC-QRHHDC Quick Release Hi-Hat Drop Clutch
See the manufacturer? Sure you do, and sure you make the right conclusion. You already know how well this clutch is built, how durable it turns out to be, and how compatible with almost any drum hardware it is. Am I right? Therefore, let’s get to the core and examine the difference between this one and SC-DC.
Both items are drop clutches, and they have a similar impact on the hi-hat sound. The most noticeable difference is that SC-QRHHDC is one piece, while SC-DC consists of a standalone clutch and a drop module. Functionally, though, they are the same. Each of them, along with basic functions, allows you to make a harsh drop sound by hitting the lever with a stick, and then return the top cymbal where it was by stepping on the pedal.
As for looks, it’s just as great as another drop clutch. It’s also compatible with virtually any 6- or 7-mm rod used in drum hardware, especially the one by Gibraltar (but not only). Your choice may depend on the price: the one-piece version is a bit more expensive than the two-piece. Or you might consider the standalone version just easier for setting up. That’s sort of right: it has a quick-release mechanism, saving your time and effort before and after the gig.
In terms of compatibility, the manufacturer claims the item is compatible with all Gibraltar 6- or 7-mm rods. In other cases, though, it might need some reworking with a Dremel. You should also be careful while tightening it: with its solid metal body, the item may appear stronger than the rod it’s on. The outcome will be no good for the rod. So don’t try too hard.
- Hand Orientation: Ambidextrous
- The Package heigt of the product is 6.1 centimeters
- Drop function;
- One-piece design (if you wish);
- Quick release feature;
- Versatile compatibility.
- More expensive than its alternatives;
- May require some tweaking.
9. DW SM379 Standard Hi-Hat Clutch
Well, you are possibly tired by now. You have read it all through, and you may be ultimately confused. You don’t want all that shiny stuff. No quick release. No drop, please. You just need a good universal hi-hat clutch, and you won’t spare a buck for a real thing. Just make it shiny and polished, so everyone can see.
Okay, here is something for you – basic, yet stylish and posh. It’s not the cheapest item, though – but it should be expected when it comes to Drum Workshop. Metal and felts, the bottom tighter and the top one, the overall feel and the solid grip – it’s all as premium as can be. Moreover, this hi-hat clutch is compatible with almost any drum hardware, except for some exotic hardware.
Its cost (if mentioned) is about twice the price of some basic analogs by Gibraltar. However, Gibraltar items resemble this one like Noname Chinese tablets – an iPad in your tablet holder. They do basically the same thing, but the experience is completely different. So, if you play premium music and need to look fabulous but don’t require extras like those above, this clutch is highly recommended.
- Package Dimensions: 5.588 H x 13.208 L x 13.716 W (centimetres)
- Locking drum key screw adds stability for top cymbal
- Premium build;
- Famous manufacturer;
- Premium looks;
- Versatile compatibility.
- Quite pricey;
- Only the basic functions.
These options must cover most needs, except for the most exotic ones – if that is your case, you will be hardly satisfied with a regular drum set. Now you know the features, the pricing, and the impact a clutch may have on the drum sound.
Outro: the Best Hi-Hat Clutch and the Importance of Minor Things
Well, anyway, it’s all about the music you play and the audience you perform it to. Not only does it impact the accessories to select, but your overall style as well. Anything should feel organic, so you look like you know what to do, and thus you lead the way.
Maybe, no one around you will ever see the clutches you use. But for your confidence, you should be sure that you have selected the optimal accessories for your environment. No bagatelles, no minor things. Everything matters. The more organic you feel about your drum set, the better you play.
Last but not least: don’t change your manner to fit the accessories you have. If you’re too careful to play like you do as you’ve heard the cymbal might break because of aggressive drumming, you should better select accessories that fit your style. Not the other way around. You are the leader; the material things follow.